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Pippa The Cat Alerts Owner To Dangerously Low Blood Sugar Levels

cat nightCreativecommons.org/Wilson Afonso

You never know when an animal you rescue may rescue you.

In the UK, a rescue cat that was left dumped in a box outside a shop has proved to be the purrrrrrfect pet for her new owner, by raising the alarm when her blood sugar levels dip to dangerous levels.

Pretty Pippa was adopted by the Jansa family, who were won over by her friendly nature and gregarious character. 

Little did they know the black and white puss would give them more than just love and cuddles – Pippa appears to have the special ability to detect when her eight-year-old owner is about to suffer a hypoglycemic episode due to her diabetes.

Pippa’s incredible gift came to light when she crept into Mia’s room and woke her up
in the middle of the night, prompting the schoolgirl to test her blood sugar levels, which revealed that they were dangerous low.

And one night, when Pippa couldn't get into the schoolgirl’s room to check on her, the persistent puss woke up her Mia’s mom, Laura instead.

"We quickly realised she was warning us,” said Laura Jansa. “If Mia didn’t wake up, then she would come to my door and miaow. She comes onto the bed, walks onto my pillow and across me until I wake up. She really makes her presence felt; she won’t take no for an answer. She knows it's important that I get up and help Mia."

Beth Hixson, manager of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals) Canterbury and Dover Animal Centre said: “Pippa was dumped in a box outside a shop in Dartford. She has such a sweet nature but I couldn’t believe it when I heard how she is helping Mia, I got goose bumps; it’s so amazing.

“She is one very special cat – she obviously has a very close bond with Mia.”

Mia has type-one diabetes, an incurable condition that she manages by regularly testing her blood sugar levels and injecting herself with insulin. She was diagnosed with the condition at six years of age when her parents were concerned that she was eating more than before but not putting on weight.

Mia tests her blood sugar levels between four and six times a day. If her blood sugar levels drop dangerously low she can experience a hypoglycemic episode, which can lead to a coma. The schoolgirl is prone to suffering hypos at night when she is asleep and does not realise that her blood sugar levels are dropping.

Since October the four-legged night nurse has alerted Mia’s mom about 20 times when Mia was in the early stages of having a hypo: “I think it must be something to do with her sense of smell; something to do with the chemistry of her blood changing,” she said. “Pippa hasn’t been trained to do this, but she obviously senses that there is something wrong and raises the alarm.

"I know there is a charity that trains dogs to detect hypos for diabetics, but I've never heard of a cat doing it. Pippa is amazing, because she does it of her own accord and without training. We don't reward her with treats or food because we don't want to encourage false alarms, but she gets plenty of cuddles instead."

Alice Potter, pet scientist at the RSPCA, said: “Although dogs alerting their owners to medical problems such as epilepsy, cancer and dangerously low blood pressure is well known, the RSPCA is not aware of any evidence in cats.

“Perhaps Pippa will be the cat to inspire new research in this area.”

 

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